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Spider Monkey

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Matilda Cruz
Matilda double majored in zoology and animal behavior at the University of Hawaii. She’s been an animal lover from a young age and knew she wanted to study them even more for her career. She’s always looking for ways to spread her animal knowledge.

Spider monkeys, scientific name Ateles, are primates native to the rainforests of Central and South America. These animals possess long, wiry arms and a prehensile tail to move fluidly through trees and vines.


Spider monkeys are omnivores, and they forage for food in groups, mainly in the mornings. They consume fruits, leaves, nuts, bird eggs, and insects. Their food gets sourced from the treetops, where they spend much of their time.

Social Behavior

Spider monkeys are diurnal. By day they move in groups of twenty to thirty. At night they separate into smaller sleeping groups of 6 or fewer. Spider monkey societies are female-led. Females select their mates during breeding.

Survival Status

Due to logging, deforestation, and illegal hunting, spider monkeys are an endangered species. It doesn’t help that spider monkeys reproduce slowly, with females giving birth to a single baby once every 2-5 years.

More exciting facts about spider monkeys:

  • Spider monkeys don’t have opposable thumbs. Even so, they are masters at navigating the treetops. They swing from branch to branch instead of leaping across spaces.
  • Their prehensile tail is strong, enabling them to grip branches and act as a fifth limb. Their skinny arms combined with their long tail gave them the appearance of spiders in the trees, hence the name.
  • Spider monkeys live for an average of 20 years in the wild.
  • Spider monkey droppings are rich in nutrients and seeds, improving the growth of trees and other plants. It means that they positively affect the ecosystem around them wherever they go.
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